Over the last few years we’ve been extremely fortunate to unearth some wonderful treasures during our research into the lives of the lads who formed the Rangers .
Just recently, after extensive research, we’ve unearthed this priceless gem which has simply blown us away.
Film footage of Gallant Pioneer Tom Vallance.
In order to fully appreciate the background and importance of this we’d encourage the reader to take the time to digest what follows.
It also gives a wonderful insight into why our Club has a very special quality and aura which at times can leave us all spell-bound.
Tom Vallance had a 60 year association with the Rangers which began at Fleshers Haugh with his friends from childhood in 1872.
As a 10 year old he was competing in, and more often than not winning, races at the Garelochhead Sports day against his friends Moses McNeil and Peter Campbell.
Tom was to captain the Rangers and become President of the Club in 1883.
After leading what could be described as a nomadic existence during our early years, Rangers eventually settled in the Ibrox area of Glasgow in 1887. Reports from the time state that it was not uncommon to find President Vallance working the turnstile on match-day.
Tom Vallance was present at the ceremony at Ibrox Stadium in 1929 when the Club’s magnificent Main Stand was opened and he recalled “the cramped conditions at Kinning Park where the players would have to wash in basins of cold water in the open air’’.
He was a guest of the Club in 1933 against Sporting Club of Vienna. The lad who was present at Fleshers Haugh was now witnessing the Club that he’d helped form and nurture through the turbulent early years playing in front of crowds touching 100,000.
Tom Vallance passed away in 1935 aged 78. His funeral was attended by Manager Bill Struth , Chairman James Bowie and players from the Vale of Leven team whom he’d faced 60 years earlier in the Club’s first ever Scottish Cup Final in 1877.
The 1877 Scottish Cup Final.
This titanic battle over 3 matches between Rangers and Vale of Leven for the 1877 Scottish Cup saw the transformation from what was a boys club born in a public park 5 years earlier into a respected football club.
The milestone would be celebrated for years to come by way of a Dinner held in Glasgow firstly in 1887 to mark the 10th anniversary and again in Tom Vallance’s Metropolitan Restaurant in 1898 for the 21st anniversary.
The series of games which was the 1877 Scottish Cup Final not only created a fierce rivalry between Rangers and Vale of Leven it also cemented great friendships which would last for decades to come.
A reunion of football’s earliest pioneers was still being held annually some 50 years later as a group of around 80 strong, including our own Tom Vallance, would take a sail up Loch Lomond ‘’ their tongues going like haun guns’’ as they recalled their old encounters and scars. The host was former resident of the Vale of Leven area and wealthy business man James Ferguson.
One of the last get togethers was on Saturday 1st September 1928 where the group left Balloch Pier and stopped for lunch and a few drinks at the Rowerdennan Hotel.
Just recently our research has incredibly located photographs and a home movie of that very event.
My colleague at the Founders Trail Gordon will lay out the story behind this and introduce a link to this incredible footage.
The Home Movie .
The search for the movie came about during a revisit to Gary Ralston’s ‘The Gallant Pioneers’. In the book Gary relays a speech that Tom Vallance gave at one of these famous Loch Lomond outings which appeared in one of two books the aforementioned James Ferguson had published in the late 1920’s.
Keen to get my hands on these tomes to find out if there was any further information that could be gleamed from them my search began. I thought the two books ‘The Old Vale and its Memories’ and ‘Epilogue to The Old Vale and its Memories’ would be tricky to find but to my delight the chaps over at the fantastic website http://www.valeofleven.org.uk/ had both the books available to download in various formats for free. At this time I like to give a mention to Bryan Weir & Harry Summers who helped immensely with information on the tours and James Ferguson. If you have some time give the site a visit, you won’t regret it.
The books turned out to be a great source of pictures and stories in which Tom Vallance featured heavily. One thing that caught the eye was a mention of a home movie that James Ferguson had made and had shown at the local cinema in Alexandria for a week. Was Tom in the movie? I had to find out!
Bryan and Harry knew about the film but had never seen it. After a week of fruitless searching the internet and sending hopeful emails it looked like we would never see the film. It was by accident whilst looking for something else that I stumbled upon the ITNsource website who now own the film. You can say I was just a little bit happy when I found it!! The only down side to the movie is we have to link to the ITN site for people to view it as the cost to rent it for our site would have cost over a thousand pound unfortunately.
The home movie can be viewed here –
Although short in length Tom can be seen a few times. The pictures below can be used as a guide.
Over the last few years we’ve been extremely fortunate to uncover a wonderful and fascinating story surrounding the kids who formed the Rangers which has blossomed into the Founders Trail.
We’d like to thank you sincerely for your continued support as our research and celebration of our Gallant Pioneers continues.
It is only fitting to end the blog with the speech that Tom Vallance delivered on the tour that featured in the film.
“Mr. Tom Vallance, proposing the toast, ‘The Old Team,’ said he had been wondering how many of those present that day had played football in their youth, and how many had not played football at all? To those who had played football, as he had done, he was certain that with him they would say, these years of kicking the ball were the most pleasant years of their lives. He repeated that in his case, at least, that was the case, and he had never regretted these ten years during which he had played football. (Applause) He had mentioned this fact to his good wife, indeed more than once, and she had replied, ‘You should be playing football yet,’ and he did not know whether that was sarcasm or not, but thinking over what she had said, he went to the manager of the Rangers’ club and asked if he could find a place for him in the team. (Laughter) He replied, ‘Come back in a fortnight, Tom, and I’ll see what can be done.’ (Laughter) He might add that he was still out-with the team. (Laughter) It was a great joy to be there that day seeing the boys again. The other day he read in a spiritualist paper that games were played in heaven, and he earnestly hoped that was the case, for a heaven without games would have little attraction for him. (Laughter) If there were football beyond, then assuredly he would get the Old Rangers team together and they would challenge the Old Vale—(laughter)—and he could tell them the result beforehand; the Vale wouldn’t be on the winning side. (Laughter) He remembered in the old days after a match they used to meet in Jamie Kinloch’s public-house, and the pies had a taste that no other pies in the world had. (Laughter) If there is a celestial Jamie Kinloch’s public-house in the next world, he hoped that his friend Johnny Ferguson would bring with him the loving cup. (Laughter) Johnny to play good football, however, would need a new pair of legs—(laughter)—and he would be none the worse of some more hair if he was to head the ball and stand a chance to win. (Laughter) But these days of meeting in this world would come to a stop, yet he was sure they would all admit that they had had a pretty fair run for their money. (Applause) ‘Gentlemen,’ he concluded, ‘drink to the health of the Old Vale Team!’